WLM Fall and Holiday 2015 - Page 40

WLM | people HORSES HELP HEAL in Sheridan By Kristen Marcus, CHAPS Executive Director Images by CHAPS staff C hildren, Horses and Adults in PartnerShip Equine Assisted Therapy (CHAPS), located in Sheridan, began in 2003 as a therapeutic riding program for children and adults with special needs. In 2004, CHAPS became a 501(c)(3). At the time, it had a part-time Executive Director, one part-time instructor, three horses and a handful of clients. Today, CHAPS has a full-time Executive Director, one part-time and one full-time instructor, a part-time counselor, part-time barn manager, 10 horses and approximately 60 clients per week. The program also has 30 volunteers that help CHAPS with sessions and caring for the horses. Without the support of these volunteers, the staff simply could not continue to make a difference in people’s lives. Today, the program has expanded to include therapeutic riding (TF), equine facilitated learning (EFL), equine assisted activities (EAA) and equine facilitated psychotherapy (EFP). Therapeutic riding (TR) is a traditional riding lesson with therapeutic goals. This program is best suited for mental delay, Downs Syndrome, anxiety, anger, depression, etc., as well as some physical challenges. Success is measured by completing activities and meeting benchmark goals set by the instructor and health team of the client. EFL can be mounted or un-mounted (usually un-mounted) and best serves people with anxiety, ADHD, ADD, emotional challenges, anger and trust issues. This program is usually done in a group and success is dependent upon completing activities and meeting benchmark goals. EAA is un-mounted and is for people who cannot ride due to injury, weight (the horses have weight limits), fear, etc. This program works mostly on communication; reading body language, learning boundaries, life skills, etc. Success for this program is also based on completing activities and meeting benchmark goals. EFP is un-mounted group therapy. It is an experiential activity in which the horses are used as metaphors. This activity is done with both a licensed counselor and certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) equine specialist in mental health and learning (ESMHL). The activities are structured so the people must learn to think 38 Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine | Autumn & Holiday 2015